Are you trying to change your man? Well, he’s hoping you don’t change.
For the first time I can remember, since moving in with Drew, I live much closer to the countryside than the coast. I often whine about needing to get back to the beach to hear the waves, but I seem to be taken in the opposite direction whenever we have some time off together and in that direction is the countryside.
Drew finds his calm in the country; my calm is on the coast.
He may be proud of his wax jacket and Toggi boots, but playing the country gent’s missus is not my brace of pheasants. I mean it’s alright now and then, but where is the sand? The light? The water? The fish restaurant? The fun? And what happened to the people? Perhaps the deer and donkeys ate them all.
I grew up not too far from where I live now, but it might as well be. Our village is a slow-moving trail of noxious fumes away from where I work, my grown up children and my beach-loving grandchildren. I visited them yesterday and it took me longer to drive there and back than I was able to spend with them.
Much like theirs, my childhood was a series of summers spent splashing in the sea until the sun went down and the sausages were cooked. I remember how on waking at the weekends, beach bag packed the night before, I would nervously pull back the bedroom curtains and will the weather to be fine.
Drew grew up running around the national park trying to catch and mount the grazing ponies. During our formative years, before we knew of each other’s existence, I was leaping over crashing waves gulping salty air while he was climbing over wooden stiles inhaling dung.
When the weather and the water were too cold for swimming, I’d spend hours squinting at the pages of my books which occasionally flapped in the sea breeze. Drew, then, would have been learning to shoot, a hobby he still enjoys and although he only ever shoots clays, the fascination for guns is distasteful to me.
Which reminds me to tell you about the bank holiday weekend when Drew ‘taught’ me to handle his in a field in Fordingbridge. Calm down – I’m talking about his rifle!
I now know the following:
you don’t shoot a gun, you fire it;
you don’t pull the trigger, you squeeze it;
it takes two people to lift it up if one of them is me;
it’s always best to point it at the sky;
the wide end should be placed firmly in the shoulder area of the markswoman or she will be propelled backwards shouting ‘bloody hell’ as the weapon goes off!
Well at least I tried. If our interests differ, there are plenty of things we enjoy doing together which we hadn’t tried before we met, such as antiquing and visiting art galleries. I may be seascape to his landscape, but we are alike in the important ingredients. We share the same values and humour and so we can support each other’s passions, or sometimes just leave each other to enjoy them. We don’t need to be the same for this to work. And we don’t have to do everything together either.
Our differences add to our experience and broaden our outlook.
I’m quite happy to scoop up supplies in the supermarket while he washes the cars and even happier to meet with a writing group while he takes his motorbike for a blast with other like-minded blokes. But it doesn’t matter if our separate excursions don’t coincide and I’m left at home toiling at a computer while he’s out having a pint with his brothers. I won’t jealously guard his free time from those he likes to be with and wouldn’t expect him to pout if I leave him behind.
We are a couple, but no matter how happy they are for us, everyone in our lives doesn’t always want or need us showing up together because our relationships are our own and in most cases, those people have been around longer than we have known each other.
Drew jokes how women hope to change their men while men hope their women don’t change. Being together enriches our lives and increases our family. And for us, our differences fill in the gaps (he’s my calculator; I’m his dictionary), add to our experience and broaden our outlook.
Lately I’m appreciating the cream tea and country pub aspects of the sticks and learning to love rivers. Drew is happy to indulge me at the seaside on a sunny day if it involves ice-cream and puts a smile on my face.